Two caveats to this review:
1) This book is really old. Like, 2011 old. This is the least timely review on this blog to date, but I’m gonna go ahead and claim its relevancy via Hulu’s recent pickup of The Mindy Project, Kaling’s followup book due to be released in September, and my unhealthy obsession with all things Mindy Kaling.
2) This is not a work of fiction (but we also did a whole project on Flash Boys, which wasn’t fiction either, and this is my blog so I can do whatever I want mwahaha).
I read the entirety of Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) on the plane last week coming home from a trip to San Francisco (which was awesome: see photo of Japantown tonkotsu ramen below). On the plane I was seated between my husband and a stranger reading Eddie Huang’s Fresh Off The Boat. I was proud that each of my intelligent, forward-thinking rowmates had chosen a work by an Asian American author (even if one of the works was a book by a gentleman known for controversy and one of them was technically my husband’s Nintendo 3DS).
Anyway, I’ve been watching/reading a lot of “follow your dreams” type stuff lately. I’ve scoured the career-focused TED talks (best one here by Larry Smith), devoured the cheesy LinkedIn articles, and spent many hours talking with my husband. I did very little career discernment in college, because by that point I’d already squelched any natural inclinations I had towards more creative pursuits. Kaling’s book fits in the inspirational category. Her down-to-earth depiction of her own life, told in Kaling’s conversational style, allow the reader four hours of being Mindy’s best friend and of taking comfort in the fact that if a normal girl from Boston like Mindy can make it, then hey, maybe you can too!
Kaling meanders from a hilariously honest account of her career as a writer for The Office to the requested dress-code for her funeral (chic-devastated) to a surprisingly thorough list of suggested ways for men to be a little more manly. This is one of those laugh-aloud-to-yourself-like-an-idiot books. I doubt Kaling was aiming to give career advice, but simply to make people laugh, which she does very well (better than Eddie Huang or The Legend of Zelda, based on the sorry silence from my rowmates).
I normally enjoy downloading comedic books to listen to while exercising (because the only thing funnier than me on a treadmill is me laughing my head off on a treadmill). I had been deciding whether to read or listen for a while now, but the paperback was an impulse buy at the airport. (It was also an illogical purchase, as the book is much cheaper on Kindle. There’s something about airports that suspends time and logic, causing us to forget the downloading capabilities of our smartphones and wander into overpriced bookstores.) Fortunately, Kaling’s writing captures the distinctiveness of her voice, which simply cannot be contained on paper.
I began my night-owl blogging as those old creative desires began to resurface, because learning to express myself seemed like a logical first outlet. Starting a blog – committing thoughts to pixels and inviting friends and strangers to read those thoughts – was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. More scary decisions will be required. Kaling’s lighthearted account of her career makes me a little braver to face my own.